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Tragedy Plus Time

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This has to be one of the worst things you’ve ever experienced on-duty — and considering you’re a nurse, that’s saying something. You’ve had to deal with stuff ranging from octogenarians and catheters, to infections (necrotizing) to terrible, awful things in general, like puke, but somehow none of that’s got anything on what (who) you’re standing in front of right now.

(Hell, you’ve even had one or two victims of a highway collision come through, but everyone’s usually in a rush when that happens, so you haven’t had to stare into a fresh open wound in a long time.)

It all started so inconspicuously, too. Sure, everything went oddly quiet outside, and sure, he’s wearing an abnormal amount of red — on his face and the rest of his body, or what’s left of it. At least when he arrived you hadn’t noticed what he was missing right away. It would have been easier to get through the evening bathed in denial, but it seems you aren’t going to be that lucky.

If anything, you would have preferred it to be a dream. An oddly lucid dream, but a dream nonetheless.

Now that you’ve had a few minutes to digest what you’re looking at, the way his arm is just barely sticking to the rest of him is almost comical. You’re good enough at your job that the sight of grimy, red meat doesn’t get to you too much, but this is such a surreal situation that you don’t know how to feel. The body suit doesn’t help, either — even if you once had to deal with a dude in a dog costume with a sprained neck, way back when you were inexperienced enough to be weirded out.

(You’d hoped Dog Guy was a mascot — your coworker promised you he definitely wasn’t. Looking back, you shouldn’t have assumed furries to be the end-all to the questionable things you’d end up seeing.)

You close your eyes for a moment and inhale as deeply as you can for the sake of keeping calm. This is fine. This is alright. The doctor should be here soon, and then you can leave and someone who’s actually up to this can handle the situation. You’ll go home, watch a movie, call a friend and tell them about this crazy thing that happened today, and then you’ll laugh, go out and grab a bite for dinner and you’ll hit the hay early so you can wake up just in time for a shiftless Saturday. Perfect, in theory.

Except the doctor doesn’t arrive. Granted, you only gave him to the count of five, but he was on his way when this guy was standing in the lobby bleeding all over the place. You’d like to hope he’s just gotten lost but he’s got at least ten years of experience on you so you kick yourself for even considering it in front of what just might be a serial killer. You don’t need to make matters more hopeless than they already are.

He slides off the cot more flexibly than you could ever hope to do, every limb where it’s supposed to be, which shouldn’t surprise you, but it does, because that isn’t the way it was earlier.

“Man, okay,” he scratches the back of his neck. “So, don’t be mad, but I totally pretended to need medical attention to lure those guys in.”

What guys? What is he talking about?

“You, uh.” You open your mouth, and then you close it, because you don’t feel like anything you might say in the next couple of moments is going to constitute as a proper answer to what he said. His healed arm (you'd clearly closed your eyes for more than a couple of minutes, although that doesn't explain how he's regenerating) is missing a sleeve, which kind of makes sense, you suppose, because clothes don’t regenerate like superpowered people do. Apparently. You hope it’s a superpower, at least, and not your mind finally giving up on you, because that would definitely be a bummer.

Actually, scratch that. Nothing is making sense right now.

“Haha, I know, right? They're probably on their way, we can relax in the meantime. Get to know each other." Your new friend clears his throat.

"Anyway, what's up?” He doesn’t look the slightest bit bothered about anything regarding the situation and to show it he kind of casually thrusts his new arm out at you, like he’s going for a handshake but isn't sure you'll get the hint. You briefly wonder if nobody ever told him most people shake with the right, but then you remember that he just grew back an entire arm in the span of who knows how long and that he probably really doesn’t care, so you take his hand and try not to feel too weird about it. At least you’ll have a story to tell when you get back home.

The man yanks a gun out of one of his pockets with disturbing ease and comfort, and you swallow thickly.

If you get back home. It's a big if, you think.

The man turns to you and motions to you with his gun. You’re still too busy worrying to actively flinch, and he takes a step closer to you, slowly, like he hasn’t just done a couple of impossible things in the span of a moment. “Oh.” He says. “Oh, yeah! I’m Deadpool. Hi.”

It doesn’t ring a bell, of course. Sure, the headlines babble about nothing but superheroes these days, but paying bills and settling debts is at the forefront of your mind to the point where you don’t even care about caped crusaders. You’re vaguely sure you aren’t missing out on anything, anyway, and if you are, at least you have front row seats to whatever farce this is for as long as you can stay alive.

He’s standing in front of you (actually, he’s moving even closer; a slow saunter, getting up close and personal with a frightened animal) like he expects an actual, coherent response, so you manage to tell him your name (Deadpool leans towards you so you probably aren’t speaking very loudly at all) and he parrots it back to you, considerably slower, before deciding he’s satisfied. Content, even. You’d be happy for him if you weren’t fearing for your life but to his credit he hasn’t shot you yet, so maybe this is all going to work out —

Or maybe it isn’t, because for a second all you can hear is the almost palpable sound — the ratatatata is much nicer when you're on the other side of a TV screen and not just a room away — of what must be bullets, which means guns, which means absolutely nothing because Deadpool (much closer than he was earlier, and therefore much closer than you would have preferred) yanks you into his arms and throws himself back-first out the window.

Chapter Text

You try not to scream the whole way down.

Granted, it isn’t too far, since you were only on the second floor when he took the leap, but you haven’t really ever considered jumping off buildings a particular habit of yours. The cacophony of gunfire and broken glass surrounds the both of you and you open your eyes just long enough to see the equivalent of at least one third of the window embed itself in his back — that’s got to hurt. He doesn’t seem too bothered.

There’s a sudden impact that feels like a blow to the head when he lands (not on his feet) but his entire body cushions the fall like a human mattress, followed by the sound of something cracking. You squeeze your eyes shut when your fingers touch something wet — then you crack one eye open and muster up just enough courage to look at your supposed savior.

Well, ex-savior. You’re oddly calm for someone who’s staring at a Jackson Pollock Convergence of blood and brains, but your nerves are still fried from a minute ago when Deadpool (rest in piece. pieces.) threw himself (and you) out the window. You’re smack-dab in the middle of reiterating to yourself that at least this is going to make for a nice story later when it hits you that this is very real and you scramble off him sounding like a tiny flute, high pitched (but quiet) and panicked.

“Oh my god,” you say to yourself, because Deadpool is — well, dead, apparently. “Oh my god.

Time almost slows down until you see his finger twitch.

Shortly after there’s a cough, and then Deadpool sits up and cracks his neck and you feel sick; it isn't every day you watch a man push his spine back into place, and you hope it never happens again. (In the back of your mind you admonish yourself for being the worst nurse ever.)

“I hate it when that happens,” he says, stands up and fixes his mask. What’s left of it. You’re honestly surprised that the street is as empty as it is, but maybe that’s a good thing considering the circumstances. You hear him clear his throat and look up to see that he’s offering you his hand. It’s the left one — the one without a sleeve, and somehow it’s easier to take it and let him hoist you onto your feet rather than take the right one. Granted, his skin feels strange, at best, but you aren’t about to be openly judgmental towards the guy with an armory strapped to his back.

(Your mother didn’t raise you to be rude.)

He gives you a once-over glance before wrenching the glass out of his back with a low, unhappy noise. Your hands shoot out halfway — like you’re supposed to help — before you start feeling unsure again and pull them back to your chest. After a second’s hesitation, you manage to speak up. “Are you okay?”

Deadpool stretches like he’s just finished a marathon and not jumped out a window. “I’d like to think so. Mostly, anyway.” His hands find his hips and he straightens his back. “But we’ve gotta go.”

“We?” You don’t even bother hiding the dread in your voice. “We have to go?”

“Well,” he shrugs. “Yeah. I kind of screwed the pooch — but I promise you’re not like, a hostage! You’re totally safe with me.”

While he’s speaking, he picks one of his swords off the ground, which doesn’t support what he just said. He looks up at you mid-bend when you don’t respond, and his mask crinkles where his mouth should be, like he’s smiling at you. (You hope he's smiling out of pity — you hope he feels so bad for you that he drops you off at your mom’s house so you can forget all of this.)

“If it helps, I usually don’t land on my head like that.”

You purse your lips.

Deadpool laughs — a welcome sound in the midst of everything that’s happening. “Not convinced?”

You’re weighing your options on answering when his head snaps to the side, alert and focused. “I was wondering what was taking them so long,” he murmurs before he hoists you into his arms faster than you would have thought possible, what with the injuries he’s sustained. He leans his head down so he can speak, tone low, like you’re in on a plan and not just a hapless victim. “I’m going to run now, so you better hold on tight. The, uh,” he clears his throat. “The car’s probably parked here somewhere.”

Your fingers curl into the fabric and you try to curl up as much as you can, closing your eyes at the sound of approaching chaos. You’re so screwed. You are so screwed.

He’s a fast runner, and at this point you’re blatantly grateful that he’s able to slip in between alleyways where his sudden assailants can’t reach you on their cars — eventually it turns out that it’s far easier than you’d assumed to actually outrun them. The real problem, though, is Deadpool’s own car, or rather, the lack of it.

Deadpool sniffs. “Could’ve sworn it was here.”

The both of you hear what might be police sirens a couple of streets away. You don’t want to get your hopes up, but you’d feel a lot better if that means the (apparent) assassins from earlier (meant for Deadpool, of course) aren’t going to be any more trouble for the rest of the evening. Still, so far it’s been so unpredictable that you’d rather not say, so for the time being, you stick to clinging to him until you feel his arms loosen around you. With the evening comes a chill and your fingers feel stiff when you pry your hands off him, sticking them in your — well, your work outfit doesn’t really have pockets, so you make do with your armpits.

You hadn’t even noticed how terribly underdressed you are, but what’s done is done. It isn’t like you can tug on his sleeve and ask him to take you back so you can change, and either way, you aren’t thrilled by the idea of (trying to) explain all of this to whoever might be concerned.

(Which would be everyone.)

He clears his throat (at least it seems like he feels as awkward as you do about all of this) and throws you a sidelong glance before he starts glancing around again. Without a gun in his hand, he’s just a little less intimidating — until you remember he still has it, dangling from one of the holsters. The swords also don’t help, but you don’t see that changing anytime soon.

“We could call a cab.” The words pop out of your mouth before you really realize it. You sort of expect him to whirl around and reprimand you for speaking up, but he just shrugs like it’s no big deal — like it’s a good idea, even — and digs around in the utility belt until he finds his cellphone. A particularly unfriendly gust of wind smacks into you and your skin prickles with goosebumps while he punches i the number for the taxi service.

(You could make a dash for it. You could, but you don’t.)

The phone rings for two long beeps before someone picks up and Deadpool’s voice becomes a muted noise in the background along with the occasional car driving past the two of you and the sound of a dog barking somewhere far away. You think you hear him say your location, but you aren’t sure. This whole shindig has you feeling calmer than you have in a while, oddly enough.

He hangs up. “Car’ll be here in like, five minutes tops.”

“Thanks for not killing me,” you say. It isn’t really a relevant point, but you felt like bringing it up while you had the time.

“That’s, uh.” Deadpool hums. “That’s cool. You’re welcome — I mean, I wasn’t going to kill you anyway. Kind of a weird thing to thank me for, but okay.”

You nod and try to rub the cold out of your arms. Smalltalk isn’t a priority while you wait for the cab although Deadpool does his best to keep up a conversation, mostly with himself. When the car arrives, he (after throwing the swords on the floor of the cab first so he can actually fit in there) climbs into the backseat with you, and although you aren’t keen on up and admitting it, he’s really warm, which is a welcome change to the dropping temperature outside. The car’s air conditioning also helps, of course, but still.

Deadpool throws the cabbie an address while you try to absorb as much warmth from your surroundings as possible. The whole evening keeps catching up with you in waves, and as much as you’d love to stay awake, and as much as you feel like you have to stay awake, you end up drifting off, lulled to sleep by the rumbling of the car and Deadpool’s blabbing with the driver.

(And then you wake up.)

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The room is entirely unfamiliar to you. You sit up, groggy and stiff but pleasantly well rested, which is strange considering the previous evening, but you aren’t about to complain. You’re alive, and that in itself is cause enough for a wave of relief to wash over you, reinforced by the presence of only a few bruises and no further injuries — you pat yourself down to make sure of it.

“Hey!”

You turn to look at Deadpool, who’s leaning on the door frame, and he waves. His outfit is devoid of holes now — or at least, he isn’t missing a sleeve anymore, and his guns and swords aren’t clinging to him. The pouches and fanny packs are still there, but they look empty.

He crosses his arms. “Sleep well? You better have — I slept on the couch.” He rubs his back against the door frame as if to make a point, “I’m pretty sure I’ve got a couple of springs stuck in my back.”

“I’m sorry.”

He shrugs. “Hey, no skin off my back.” A pause, and then he shoots you a wink (you’re guessing it’s a wink). “Literally. Anyway, shower’s down the hall and to the left immediately.”

You’re already chewing through another apology when he uncrosses his arms and waves you into silence, walking into the room and yanking a pile of clothes out of a shabby closet. He holds them up in front of him, between the both of you, but he doesn’t wait for your answer before he tosses them onto the bed — upon further inspection, you’re pretty sure they’re clean. It’s nice of him, but it doesn’t excuse the could-be, would-be hostage situation, as toned down as it seems right now.

Talking to him about going home feels imperative. You’re infinitely grateful that you’re still in one piece and relatively well aside from the aftershocks of yesterday hitting you in gentle waves, but you still need — or want — to go home to your flat. The milk is about to expire. You have laundry to do. Bills to pay. Neighbors to talk to, to assure that you’re alive and well for the most part.

Deadpool hums a tune and leaves, and the way to the bathroom is clear. You shove the clothes he threw your way under your arm and slowly, carefully make your way out of the room. Hallway and to the left. The place is far from clean, but it isn’t the worst you’ve seen and on top of that, you’re pretty sure his bath-shower combo is (regretfully) bigger than your itty bitty bathroom. You’ve found at least one upside to your problem.

You discard your clothes in a pile on the floor and step into the shower, jiggling the handle until you get the proper, warm-hot water going; not scalding, but hot enough to melt a handful of your worries away for the time being. After half an hour of simply marinating under the shower head, you grab the shampoo sitting precariously in the corner and squeeze a generous amount into your hand before you go to town on your own hair. You deserve this. You’ve been through enough. Eventually, after rinsing thoroughly (you don’t repeat, though, you never have), you turn the water off and reach for the cleanest looking towel hanging on the wall.

Toweling yourself off in an unfamiliar home proves to be far easier than putting the clothes on — or rather, getting the clothes to stay on. The shirt is at least a couple of sizes too big, and it’s some old, obscure band you aren’t sure you’ve ever heard of before. The pants are plain, just sweatpants, grey and thankfully not stained, which is more than you’d dared to hope for at this point.

Finding your way to wherever he isn’t very challenging — there’s a big middle space with a TV and a couch and what looks like way, way too many guns leaning against the wall in a menacing, messy formation. It doesn’t take you long to spot Deadpool, sitting and sharpening one of his swords in a big, thick chair with upholstery leaking out the side like a wounded animal. He looks up when he hears your footsteps — you’re wearing socks, but the floor creaks — and snorts.

“Oh my god,” he sounds happy, at least, which is good, “you look ridiculous. Did you shrink? Oh my god. You’re so tiny.”

He hasn’t flat out done away with you for opening your big mouth yet, so you take it upon you to respond, although it isn’t anything to write home about. Your throat feels dry and you’re hungry, and your tongue is thick in your mouth. “Maybe you’re just big.”

A mild silence stretches out between the two of you. Deadpool even looks slightly troubled (or embarrassed for your sake) like he isn’t sure what to say.

He clears his throat. “This is so weird. You’re weird.”

“What?”

He shrugs. “What? I didn’t say anything.” He goes quiet for a beat before he stands up and walks past you, kicking a couple of boxes aside to clear the way into the kitchen. “You hungry? I’m hungry. C’mon.”

You follow him into a marginally less cluttered kitchen (it’s still messy, but it’s not a total catastrophe) and stand still for a moment as he drags aside a chair for you with flair. “After you.”

After debating with yourself you sit down, looking around the kitchen like you’re searching for an exit. Your fingers wriggle against your palms. You don’t know this guy, so even if you put things politely, what’s there to stop him from putting you down? It takes a little bit of effort for you to find your voice. “Thanks. You know, I appreciate this, but you don’t have to d—“

“Shhh!” Deadpool holds a finger up to his face — mask, really — and you flinch. He walks to the fridge for a carton of milk, then to a cabinet where rummages around for a box of cereal, shaking it (it isn’t empty) and then tossing it on the table. You grab one of the bowls already within reach and drag it towards you.

“Listen — I’m not having any of that. I’m busting my ass trying not to freak you out so can you please stop acting like I’m about to kill you?” He stares at you expectantly (he might not be staring at all, but you can’t really tell) before shaking his head and sitting down at the table with you. “I mean, for real, man. I would’ve killed you ages ago if you were my actual target. I don’t rescue people I’m supposed to assassinate, that’d just be unprofessional.”

Your mind is already apologizing, but the rest of you stutters uselessly. So he’s an assassin — you’d gathered by the way he’s dressed — but that doesn’t make it a comfortable thought. Still, it’s a relief, knowing you’re more or less safe. Wait —

“So I’m safe?” You look at him. You’re already reaching for another bowl, and you offer it to him slowly and tentatively.

Deadpool rubs his face and takes the bowl from you. “Yeah, you’re safe.” He twists around in his seat to grab a pair of spoons from the drawer and tosses you one. “Safer here than you’d be out there. I mean, you’ve been seen with me, so I can’t guarantee they won’t try to gut you.”

Your brow furrows, partly out of concern and partly out of the alarming of concentration it’s taking to pour milk into your cereal. “But if you hadn’t taken me with you, I wouldn’t have been seen with you, right?”

“Well, I mean,” he sniffs, “I guess so.”

“So it’s your fault.” You look up from the bowl. “It’s your fault I’m in danger.”

“Hey.” He points at you. “It’s technically your fault since you were on duty when I came in, alright? It’s not on me you decided to come in to work.”

“Are you serious?” It’s proving difficult to keep the disbelief out of your voice, and in light of the situation you really shouldn’t be eating, but you’re hungry and this is all you might be getting for now. “Don’t blame me, you faked dying. We fell from the window and you were fine!”

Deadpool leans back. “You know what? Fine. I’m sorry, but at least I’ll make sure you’re safe, okay? I’m an adult — I can take responsibility for my actions.”

“Thank you,” you say, “but that doesn’t make things right. I really want to go home.”

He pours the milk into his cereal. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Dave.”

You squint at him. “Did you just quote Space Odyssey at me? Right now?”

“Maybe.” He props his chin up on his hand. “But really, I’d stay here for a while until stuff blows over. That — or until I kill all the guys chasing me, which might take longer, but it’d be a pretty permanent solution.”

This is starting to sound like way too much for you to take in all at once, so you do your best to eat some of the cereal while you think of what to say to him. Your breakfast is definitely stale, but due to everything — murder, guns, the fact you’re still alive — you don’t feel entitled to complain about it. “Will everyone I know be safe, too?”

“Well,” he hasn’t touched his cereal, “I mean, I think so. You can text your friends or whatever — just don’t leave the house. Don’t worry, though, I’m really good at killing people.”

He back-pedals when you look properly unsettled, “I mean, like, the bad guys. You look like a nice person, so I’m just going to keep you safe for a little while and then I’ll let you go. Like,” he stirs the milk with his spoon, “like a catch and release? Like on Animal Planet.”

“Great.”

He sticks his hand under the mask and starts tugging on it, exposing battered skin that seems to go all the way up to his jawline, and then he stops. “Bottom line is, I’m trying my best not to make you scream, because I’ve got neighbors and the walls are thin — but more than that, I’m trying to be nice on top of literally saving your life so I’d really appreciate if you’d return the favor.”

There doesn’t seem to be any way out of this. “Alright,” you mumble through a mouthful of cereal. “If I’m safe, and if everyone I know is safe.”

“Yeah, I mean, it isn’t like they know who you are or anything.” He’s back to tugging at his mask. “But they know where you work, and they probably know what you look like as well so, y’know. Better safe than sorry.”

You push the empty bowl of cereal away from you and run your fingers through your hair. Everything seems to teeter back and forth — you’re either angry or you’re too tired to feel as trapped as you really are. At least you’re safe, supposedly. “Can I have your phone number, then?”

He looks up. What you can see of his skin doesn’t look very good, tattered and thick with scarred tissue, but staring doesn’t feel right and you look into his eyes instead. “Like, digits? Isn’t that kind of inappropriate?”

“So I can call you if something bad happens while you’re out.” You say. “Killing.”

“Oh, so, you weren’t—“

You exhale through your nose. “No.”

“Right,” he nods, and pats himself down. “Right. Of course.” He manages to find a piece of paper and a pen and writes it down, sliding it across the table to you like it’s a well-kept secret. “If your phone’s out of juice I’ve got a ton of chargers in one of these drawers. Somewhere.”

“Thank you,” you glance around. “So how many days until I can go home?”

“Two days, maybe. Like I said — I’m really good at my job.” He sounds proud, and you’d point out how awful it is if you weren’t so through with everything. “In retrospect, if you’re only here for like, two days, why do you want my number? Are you sure you aren’t flirting with me—“

You don’t wait until he’s finished speaking to answer. “All of this is your fault, so I’m keeping your number in case I have to call on you for help when I’m back home. Do you understand?”

He scoffs. “You’re not the boss of me.”

“No,” you say, “but I’d really appreciate it if you’d just do this for me.”

Deadpool goes quiet before he holds his hand out to you. “Nice doing business with you.”

You take it, relieved for once, and in the back of your mind you’re dead set on charging your phone when you’re not busy bartering. “We’re not doing business, Deadpool.”

“It’s Wade, actually.” He’s relatively gentle when he shakes your hand, more amicable all of a sudden — although it doesn’t take the edge off your predicament.

“What?”

“I feel like I can trust you, since you’re kind of puny and harmless.” He gives you a thumbs up with his free hand. “It isn’t like my name is a national secret, anyway. But — I’m Wade.”

“Oh,” you purse your lips. You’re still shaking hands. “Well, I’m—“

“I already know your name.”

You open your mouth, and then shut it. “Right. Thank you, Wade.”

Because his mask is half-off, you can see him grin. The fact that his face isn’t entirely covered is probably one of the reasons you’re feeling a little more at ease than you did before, with features to focus on, a mouth that moves when he speaks. Somewhat off-kilter, you wonder if you’ll ever end up seeing the rest of his face.

His beeper goes off and startles you into letting go of his hand. Wade fishes it out of his pocket and fumbles with it, swearing under his breath as he stands up. “I gotta go. Got a lead on one of the guys, probably.” He puts his beeper back in his pocket and looks at you. “Listen, if I come home all screwed up, like—“ He gestures to himself, “missing a leg or something, don’t freak out.”

You press your lips together unpleasantly. “Nothing I haven’t seen you do before.”

Wade laughs a little. “Oh, right. Shit, I forgot all about that.”

He has you follow him while he gathers his equipment and he manages to explain how the safe house works as he loads guns bigger than your own arms. You don’t exactly feel comfortable with how mundane he’s acting, but you let yourself be relieved that he’s on your side, at least. Those guns won’t be pointed at you, so you consider yourself fortunate.

Wade stops by the door, a rucksack slung over his shoulder. “There’s a couple loaded guns around the house if you need to shoot someone, but I think you should be fine.”

You scratch your arm and look him over — he’s more ammo than man at this point. “I don’t even know how to fire a gun.”

“No problem,” he shrugs. “I’ll teach you when I’m back. It’s kind of like riding a bicycle.”

“We’ll see,” you smile an uncertain smile. “Good luck.”

He throws you a mock salute before jogging out the door and getting into a car, and the safe house suddenly feels much bigger than before. Emptier, too, missing an entire person, but you console yourself with checking for one of the loaded guns he told you about.

It takes you ten or so minutes to find a handful of handguns (those you can lift without any trouble, at least) so you settle for sitting down on the couch and pressing a couple of buttons until the sizable TV turns on, filling the room with a familiar static. You don’t pay attention to what’s happening on-screen, but it provides you with comfortable background noise, and you don’t even realize you’re dozing off until you fall asleep.